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My cat licks the gravy but leaves the meat—what should I do?

Your cat’s eating habits are pretty telling. How much your pet eats and how they behave after a meal is indicative of their general well-being. Any sudden change in “table manners” is worth looking into since it could be related to a medical issue. 

So, what does it mean if your cat licks the gravy but leaves the meat? Are they merely fed up with wet food, or is there more to this peculiar behaviour? In this article, we’ll explore why your cat is picking apart their meals and see what you can do to rectify the situation.

Why is my cat licking food and not eating?

Most cats are set in their ways when it comes to their meals. They might snag a mouse or slug to spice things up occasionally, but overall—they appreciate routine.

If your cat decided to stop eating wet food all of a sudden and only licks the gravy, do your best to figure out why. An abrupt shift in their eating habits could be a symptom of an acute condition or a signal to change their diet.

In most cases, the behaviour is caused by:

  1. Underlying health problems 
  2. Whisker fatigue
  3. Fussiness

Underlying health problems

If your cat only licks the gravy off food or refuses to eat entirely, it might be due to an underlying health problem. You should keep track of their pre- and post-meal behaviour in the following days to see if there’s cause for concern. 

Keep in mind that it might be a simple case of indigestion, so there’s no need to panic. Your cat could’ve eaten or drank questionable food that upset their stomach. Another common cause of digestive problems is hairball formation. If your cat’s licking the food but not eating, gagging, and feeling low, they could be passing a fur clump.

Contact your vet if the finicky behaviour doesn’t stop within 48–72 hours and is followed by other symptoms (e.g. fatigue, fever, vomiting, nausea, diarrhoea, etc.). Make an appointment and inform them of the symptoms you've observed as well as the approximate timeline. The vet will do a complete physical check to see if there’s a medical reason why your cat only licks their food. Fluctuation in appetite and dietary habits are common signs of:

Your kitty might not be up for lunch because they’re feeling under the weather.

Source: @filizakins

Whisker fatigue

Your pet’s newfound feeding ritual might be caused by whisker fatigue. Whiskers play a crucial role in your cat’s sensory perception. The tiny hairs provide important input, like the smell and spatial orientation, that helps felines navigate their environment. 

Whiskers are connected to the cat’s central nervous system, so they’re quite sensitive. Too much stimulation can induce a temporary condition called whisker fatigue that affects the appetite. 

If your cat only eats the gravy and then quickly retreats, they might be overwhelmed by the aroma. Besides appetite loss, your pet may demonstrate other strange behaviour, such as circling the food, pawing at the leftovers, meowing, or being confrontational.

Whisker fatigue is typically caused by an inadequate food bowl. In case the dish is too narrow, your cat’s whiskers will brush on the sides. To avoid overstimulation, serve the meals on a flat tray or a shallow plate.

If the strange behaviour continues even after you’ve switched bowls, you should consult your vet.


I gave it a lick, but tonight’s dinner leaves much to be desired. 

Source: @muffinthekittenx

A random bout of fussiness is the most likely reason your cat is licking their food and not eating the whole meal. Our feline companions can develop preferences for particular textures and flavours. 

Your pet might enjoy the taste of gravy in wet food but dislike the meat chunks. They might favour shredded meat or jelly, or perhaps an entirely different product

Many cats like to nibble on rough, dry biscuits as opposed to eating wet food. If you’ve suddenly switched from kibble to semi-wet or wet meals, your kitty will most likely protest. 

As palatable as it is to your pet, dry food shouldn’t be the basis of their diet. Biscuits aren’t hydrating enough to sustain your pet’s digestive, reproductive, and urinary health. Dry food products are made with green peas, corn, sweet potatoes, brown rice, and other starchy ingredients that are too caloric for indoor cats.

Is it a problem if my cat only eats the gravy?

While gravy can be quite appetising, it’s not enough for a healthy diet. Your cat is an obligate carnivore who needs well-balanced meals based on whole meat! 

Gravy is the feline equivalent of ketchup or mayo—a delicious condiment with limited nutritional value. The sauce is made with the natural juices exuded from meat (chicken, turkey, pork, beef, fish, and seafood), unseasoned bone broth, and some thickener (e.g. gelatin). Although meat-based, it isn’t nutritious enough for cats. 

The protein content in gravy is too low. Your cat needs loads of animal protein to enable:

  1. Amino acid synthesis
  2. Energy production
  3. Vital organ function
  4. Muscle growth
  5. Tissue formation

What to do if your cat only licks their food

It’s time to teach your cat some table manners!

Source: @fluffie_the_scottish_fold

Unless it’s a medical issue, you can prevent your pet’s finicky attitude with a few tricks. If your cat only eats gravy due to stubbornness, try the following:

  1. Throw in some kibbleAdd a few grams of kibble to the wet food to get them to finish the whole plate. You can use other toppings like ham or bacon
  2. Heat the meal—Try warming up wet food to enhance the aroma of the meat. You can also pour homemade soup over the chunks. Make sure it’s unseasoned since cats react poorly to salt, garlic powder, and other spices
  3. Clean the food bowl—Clean their bowl after each meal to prevent whisker fatigue. The leftover smell from yesterday’s lunch can put them off their food
  4. Change textures—If your pet doesn’t budge, you can always go from serving gravy to using jelly recipes and vice versa—if your cat only licks the jelly, give them gravy or shredded meat
  5. Switch brands—Perhaps it’s time for a change of diet? Your cat might not like the taste of one particular brand, so you should test other products

Untamed—your ally in the fight against felines fussiness!

Delicious whole meat served in mouth-watering jelly? That’s more like it!

Image (c) Untamed

If your cat only licks gravy off food and refuses to empty their plate, Untamed is the perfect solution. Our food is packed with fresh, human-grade whole meat that’ll make your pet go wild. Each meal is designed to tickle your cat’s palate with exciting recipes that follow the feline natural diet

Our premium cat food is:

  • Rich in protein—One tin of Untamed food has twice as much animal protein as the industry standard. All Untamed products are entirely free from plant protein, sugar, grain, or similar fillers
  • Made with whole meat—We use real meat in our feline delicacies. Your cat can choose from various poultry, fish, and seafood dishes, made with:
    • Chicken breast 
    • Chicken liver
    • Duck breast
    • Salmon fillet
    • Tuna steak
    • Sardine and mackerel fillet
    • Shrimp
  • Vet-formulated—Untamed food was designed with the help of veterinary experts, ensuring your cat’s unique biological needs are met
  • Ethically made—As per our Planet Pledge, we only use 100% recyclable packaging to protect the environment, and all our ingredients are ethically reared and sustainably caught

Our diet is not only fussy eater approved but also healthy and nourishing. Each ingredient is gently steamed to preserve its inherent biological value. 

Thanks to the feedback from our loyal customers, we were able to trace the full scope of the Untamed effect. Check out the details in the table below:


The Untamed effect

Within a week

  • Tidy litter tray
  • Increased energy

After two months

  • Decreased shedding
  • Shinier and thicker fur

Within four months

  • Fewer hairballs
  • Optimal weight and muscle tone
  • Stable digestive health

Long-term benefits

  • Fewer gastrointestinal issues
  • Stronger immune response
  • Stable health

Create a meal plan your cat won’t be able to resist

Choose from our exciting offer of gravy and jelly recipes by taking a quick-and-easy online quiz! In a few clicks, you’ll be able to create a personalised menu based on your cat’s food preferences, sensitivities, and life stage. Your picky eater will develop a healthy appetite because our food is irresistible.

Here’s a sneak peek into our menu: 

Our menu


Chocka Chicken in Jelly*

Premium chicken breast dipped in mouth-watering jelly 

Chocka Chicken with Duck in Jelly

Fresh chicken breast spiced up with delicious duck meat, served in jelly

Chocka Chicken with Ham in Gravy

Juicy chicken breast gently cooked in natural chicken gravy with a hint of ham 

Chocka Chicken in Gravy

Shredded chicken breast simmered in natural gravy

Tuck-in Tuna in Jelly*

Dolphin-safe tuna steak in jelly and appetising fish broth

Tuck-in Tuna with Salmon in Jelly

Tuna steak in jelly complemented with salmon fillet

Tuck-in Tuna with Shrimp in Jelly

Dolphin-safe tuna served in jelly with delicious shrimp

*Tuck-in Tuna in Jelly and Chocka Chicken in Jelly are hypoallergenic recipes made with a single source of protein!

If you want your cat to lick the bowl, give them a tin of Untamed’s Chocka Chicken in Jelly!

Image (c) Untamed

Sign up for monthly deliveries of Untamed food

You can sign up for our multipack cat food trial box by following these steps:

  1. Take the Try Now online quiz 
  2. Tell us about your cat
  3. Select the products
  4. Confirm your order 

The first shipment of our feline delicacies will be delivered directly to your doorstep within a day. Once your cat goes through the entire menu, you’ll start receiving scheduled deliveries of Untamed meal boxes. 

You can always tweak your initial cat food subscription in case your pet has a change of heart about one of the products. Please let us know if you’d like to postpone or cancel a delivery, and we’ll be happy to help.